Commentary on medical news by a practicing physician.

  • Epocrates MedSearch Drug Lookup


    "When many cures are offered for a disease, it means the disease is not curable" -Anton Chekhov

    ''Once you tell people there's a cure for something, the more likely they are to pressure doctors to prescribe it.''
    -Robert Ehrlich, drug advertising executive.

    "Opinions are like sphincters, everyone has one." - Chris Rangel

    email: medpundit-at-ameritech.net

    or if that doesn't work try:


    Medpundit RSS

    Quirky Museums and Fun Stuff

    Who is medpundit?

    Tech Central Station Columns

    Book Reviews:
    Read the Review

    Read the Review

    Read the Review

    More Reviews

    Second Hand Book Reviews


    Medical Blogs


    DB's Medical Rants

    Family Medicine Notes

    Grunt Doc




    Code Blog: Tales of a Nurse

    Feet First

    Tales of Hoffman

    The Eyes Have It


    SOAP Notes


    Cut-to -Cure

    Black Triangle



    Kevin, M.D

    The Lingual Nerve

    Galen's Log



    Doctor Mental



    Finestkind Clinic and Fish Market

    The Examining Room of Dr. Charles

    Chronicles of a Medical Mad House



    Health Facts and Fears

    Health Policy Blogs

    The Health Care Blog

    HealthLawProf Blog

    Facts & Fears

    Personal Favorites

    The Glittering Eye

    Day by Day


    The Business Word Inc.

    Point of Law

    In the Pipeline


    Tim Blair

    Jane Galt

    The Truth Laid Bear

    Jim Miller

    No Watermelons Allowed

    Winds of Change

    Science Blog

    A Chequer-Board of Night and Days

    Arts & Letters Daily

    Tech Central Station





    The Skeptic's Dictionary

    Recommended Reading

    The Doctor Stories by William Carlos Williams

    Pox Americana: The Great Smallpox Epidemic of 1775-82 by Elizabeth Fenn

    Intoxicated by My Illness by Anatole Broyard

    Raising the Dead by Richard Selzer

    Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy

    The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks

    The Sea and Poison by Shusaku Endo

    A Midwife's Tale by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich



    American Academy of Pediatrics

    General Health Info

    Travel Advice from the CDC

    NIH Medical Library Info



    Friday, March 02, 2007

    When Sorry Isn't Enough: We are often told by anti-tort reform forces that if we just acknowledge our mistakes, the malpractice insurance problems would go away. Maybe. But sometimes, acknowledging a mistake will just get you accused of murder:

    The sons of a woman who died from a medication error at Akron City Hospital filed court actions this week seeking damages and an order changing her cause of death from accidental to homicide.

    The Summit County Medical Examiner's Office ruled that Victoria O. Baker, 82, of Akron, died on March 2, 2005, from an accidental overdose through an intravenous line of a drug called potassium phosphate.

    Baker was supposed to receive the drug through a feeding tube -- not an intravenous line -- before undergoing tests while hospitalized at City Hospital for gastrointestinal discomfort, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Summit County Common Pleas Court.

    The medical examiner determined that the overdose through the IV line resulted in cardiac arrhythmia, a potentially fatal condition in which the heart beats abnormally, according to the cause of death report.

    ``We acknowledged at the time of the event and continue to acknowledge that an unfortunate, unintentional medication error led to the death of Ms. Baker, for which we remain deeply sorry,'' Summa spokesman Mike Bernstein said.

    But Akron attorney David P. Drew, the administrator for Baker's estate, and her sons, Clark and Gary Nobil, are seeking a court order directing the Summit County medical examiner to change the cause of death to homicide from cardiac arrest -- the sudden, abrupt loss of heart function.

    The anger has to be directed somewhere, and since the mistake's been admitted and responsibility accepted (with willingness, presumably, to pay for the mistake in a malpractice settlement), there's little satisfaction for the aggrieved. They must have the satisfaction of hitting back as hard as possible and making those who made the mistake hurt as much - or more- as they are hurting.

    posted by Sydney on 3/02/2007 09:51:00 AM 4 comments


    "We are often told by anti-tort reform forces that if we just acknowledge our mistakes, the malpractice insurance problems would go away."

    Who told you that?

    "(with willingness, presumably, to pay for the mistake in a malpractice settlement),"

    You know what happens when you assume.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:36 PM  

    Who told me that?

    These guys.

    It's often offered as a serious alternative to tort reform. We should take responsibility for our mistakes, but it obviously doesn't always alleviate the anger.

    By Blogger sydney, at 8:12 AM  

    No one seriously suggests apologizing alleviates the anger or prevents any particular malpractice suit. There is little doubt, however, that on aggregate it works to reduce suits, settlements, and damage awards. Malpractice insurers believe this as they are encouraging apology laws (without such encouragement no such laws would pass).

    Your citation of one contrary case hardly disproves the general belief in apologies. Nevertheless, there are other significant problems with apology laws. Marlynn Wei's recent paper on this is excellent.

    By Blogger Daniel Goldberg, at 1:46 PM  

    IV administration of K3PO4 isn't an accident, it's murder. The hospital can apologize all it wants, but it's not like it was an adverse drug reaction; they gave the patient a drug IV which will kill you if administered IV. If i was the patients family, i would also seek criminal charges; for this is a criminal act. The culpability depends on the crime; if there was say an adverse reaction to tylenol, then i couldn't see criminal charges being brought; it happens. But K3PO4? That's beyond the pale. Sawing off the wrong leg? Also culpability, but don't know about criminal. But a life was lost, unnecessarily, due to criminal negligance. If we require medical practictioners to not try and kill patients, then it should increase the standard of care. Here i don't thing people smarter than a brick are to blame (ie RNs, MDs), but those med techs that have at most 2 years of school? That and the lack of supervision is the real issue I think. There should be some basic requirements of knowing things that will kill patients, quickly. Seems like common sense to me.

    By Blogger Rob Dejournett, at 10:00 PM  

    Post a Comment

    This page is powered by Blogger, the easy way to update your web site.

    Main Page


    Home   |   Archives

    Copyright 2006